“Is it me, or have her boobs got bigger?” That’s what I was greeted with once, when I walked into my friend’s kitchen in our student block of flats. The question was asked by a boy, and directed at the group of four other boys sat around the table. I made sure I was never alone with that man again. Earlier, when I was 15 and working at a coffee shop, my moustached manager asked me if I’d ever kissed anyone with a moustache. From then on, I went to a different cafe on my lunch break to make sure I was never alone with him again.
Once, Taron Egerton saw #MeToo trend on Twitter and now makes sure he is never alone with a woman again.
“Like a lot of people with a profile I was like, ‘Holy shit, what have I done since I was 18?’” the actor told the Radio Times, under the painfully ironic headline “A hero for today”. “I have just become single again and I’m not in a place where I’m thinking about dating, but when I am, it will probably affect my thinking a bit. There are certainly situations where I avoid being alone with certain people, definitely.” Women. He means he avoids being alone with women.
It goes without saying that Egerton’s comments completely miss the point of the #MeToo movement. If he feels he cannot be alone with women, there are only two conclusions to draw. One: Egerton believes some women who have accused powerful men of sexual harassment, assault or rape are lying, and will jump at the chance to do the same to him. Or, two: Egerton behaves in a way towards women that he knows is wrong. Luckily, since he doesn’t want to hang out with any of us, we won’t find out.
This is a man bewildered by the idea that there are consequences for another man’s actions, and maybe even his own
You might recognise Egerton from the two Kingsman films, or from the trailer of the new Robin Hood film (yes, there’s another Robin Hood film), or from the news that he will play Elton John in an upcoming biopic. But it’s unlikely you’ll know him from Billionaire Boys Club. The movie only made $126 on its opening, and never even made it to UK cinemas, all thanks to the accusations of sexual assault and misconduct against Kevin Spacey. Perhaps Egerton is still feeling a little sore from this career misstep and looking for someone or something to blame – it’s no surprise he landed on the #MeToo movement and the women behind it.
What Egerton doesn’t understand is how hard it is to say #MeToo. He doesn’t know the courage or the determination it takes, knowing that people will accuse you of lying and trying to garner attention. If Spacey had approached him, he says, “I don’t think that would have been the greatest challenge to deal with. I don’t think I would have felt rocked to the core by it.” By extension, does Egerton believe the men and women who have said #MeToo just aren’t “dealing” with the situation very well?
Having said that, Egerton wasn’t surprised “when it all kicked off”, presumably referring to Anthony Rapp’s accusation that Spacey had made sexual advances towards him when he was just 14. “It’s such a tricky, complicated and weird thing, it’s almost Greek [tragedy], isn’t it? He’s just gone now. Gone.” What you’ve just read there is a man bewildered by the idea that there are consequences for another man’s actions, and maybe even his own.
It is true, though, that some parts of #MeToo are complicated. Some of the conversations that need to happen are tricky, nuanced and require proper attention and care. But other bits are really quite simple – don’t be sexually inappropriate or abusive, don’t rape us, listen to us, believe us. The real tragedy here is that some men still don’t get it.